“My research experiences have shown me that, in spite of what statistics say about women in science, any girl with a passion for exploring unanswered questions can and should be persistent in pursuing that work,” says Sara Volz, 17. “Being female should not hold anyone back from science or engineering.”
Volz won the grand prize and $100,000 in the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious high school science research competition, for her research of algae biofuels. The competition inspires students to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, from cancer treatments to natural disaster solutions. This year, nearly half of the 40 finalists were female.
According to the Department of Commerce, women currently hold fewer than 25 percent of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields, but job opportunities in those areas are expected to grow almost twice as much as other occupations by 2018.
To help inspire girls to pursue science, female Intel Science Talent Search finalists share their experiences on how they stayed involved:
• Develop a science network. A support team of like-minded classmates and friends can strengthen a girl’s interest and success in science and engineering subjects.
• Find a mentor. Teachers, neighbors, parents of friends and even business leaders in your community make great mentors in science and math. They help girls visualize the exciting path ahead of them.
• Get your hands dirty. You can only learn so much about science by reading a textbook. Immerse yourself in hands-on experiences, in the laboratory or out in the field. Actually doing science is what makes science so fun.